MOORLACH UPDATE — SD U-T on Laura’s Law — June 6, 2014

After shepherding the adoption of Laura’s Law in the OC, including addressing the fiscal hurdles, it is nice to receive a little recognition and to be, hopefully, at the front of a trend. San Diego U-T columnist Logan Jenkins provides a nice nudging for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to consider implementing Laura’s Law in the piece below.

BONUS: The upcoming day hike for Saturday, June 14th, from 9 a.m. to noon, has a couple of openings left. We will meet at the Pacific Ridge Trailhead and hike toward the coast to El Morro. Transportation back to your vehicles will be provided. Michael O’Connell, Executive Director of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, was to be our guide but had an unexpected conflict. However, the Conservancy will be substituting Michael with some fine representatives. Michael will be with us for our next hike, scheduled for July 26th, which will start where this one finishes. Please e-mail your interest for either outing to Cammy.Danciu.

70th ANNIVERSARY BONUS: Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy by allied troops. Please take a moment to reflect on the service of those who paid the ultimate price and for those who had to live with the memories of this effort for the remainder of their lives. If your schedule permits and you can be flexible, please feel welcome to join me for lunch at the American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291, 215 15th Street, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Primary Results — June 4, 2014. To appreciate the local touch of D-Day, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Walter D. Ehlers Day — May 7, 2014. And, to see how close to home this topic gets, my granddaughter lost two great-grandfathers this past year, both of whom served in the U.S. Army during World War II, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Trolley Folly — May 28, 2014.

Put Laura’s Law on ballot if supervisors spurn it again

By Logan Jenkins

In quick succession last month, two populous counties — Orange and San Francisco — moved decisively to enact Laura’s Law, a 12-year-old state measure that only one small Northern California county has fully adopted.

While voting to institute the mental-health law that targets mentally ill people who resist treatment, OC Supervisor Janet Nguyen observed, “We are sending a very strong message statewide.”

Just a few days later in San Francisco, Supervisor Mark Farrell, joined by Mayor Ed Lee, pledged that one of two things will happen this summer: A majority of Farrell’s fellow supervisors will adopt Laura’s Law or it will go on the fall ballot. Period.

In San Francisco, polls report more than a 70 percent public approval of court-ordered outpatient treatment for carefully referred mentally ill people with a history of hospitalization or incarceration.

Every county has a tragic example of why Laura’s Law isn’t a luxury but potentially a human survival tool.

At the urging of Supervisors Dave Roberts and Dianne Jacob, the county last year reviewed Laura’s Law, named for Laura Wilcox, a promising college student slain in Nevada County by a mentally ill man who refused treatment.

The supervisors appeared to buy the mental-health bureaucracy’s skeptical view that Laura’s Law is not ready for prime time. Funding issues. Not enough teeth. And so on.

So the supes passed on Laura’s Law and poured more money into the voluntary IHOT program.

In San Diego, resistance to Laura’s Law seems to be baked into the bureaucracy, perhaps a cultural opposition to court-ordered intervention, no matter how light-handed.

To be sure, Laura’s Law is not a miracle cure. Neither is it a Draconian scourge. It’s a tested method to give a small (but expensive) number of sick individuals resistant to treatment a chance before being left to rot in prisons or psychiatric hospitals.

In Nevada County and dozens of other states, the so-called “black robe effect,” the force behind Laura’s Law, has proved helpful in reducing arrests, hospitalizations, homelessness, suicides, violence.

A judge is not God, but in this troubled world, compassionate men and women wearing black robes and commanding teams of mental-health specialists are as close as we’re going to get.

In San Diego, it may take someone with the belief of San Francisco’s Farrell or OC Supervisor John Moorlach to either enact Laura’s Law or get it on the ballot where it would pass in a landslide.

OC and San Francisco, counties on opposite ends of the political spectrum, are sending a message.

Will it be heard south of Camp Pendleton?

logan.jenkins@utsandiego.com

(760) 529-4917

Logan Jenkins, a fourth-generation San Diegan, grew up in Coronado. He attended Francis Parker School in Mission Hills through eighth grade, graduating from Coronado High School in 1965. After earning a doctoral degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia, he taught for several years at San Diego State University, where he’d studied as an undergraduate. In the early ’80s, Jenkins left the classroom for the newsroom, serving as editor of the La Jolla Light and a variety of editing positions at the Times Advocate in Escondido. In 1996, he joined the U-T as a columnist based in North County. Jenkins lives in Bird Rock with his wife, Renee, a retired Francis Parker teacher. His son, Lee, is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated.

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